Bard Fiction Prize

What Is the Bard Fiction Prize?

The Bard Fiction Prize is awarded to a promising, emerging writer who is an American citizen aged 39 years or younger at the time of application. In addition to the monetary award, the winner receives an appointment as writer in residence at Bard College for one semester, without the expectation that he or she teach traditional courses. The recipient gives at least one public lecture and meets informally with students.

2016 Bard Fiction Prize Recipient:

Alexandra Kleeman

Author Alexandra Kleeman has been selected to receive the annual Bard Fiction Prize for 2016. The prize, established in 2001 by Bard College to encourage and support promising young fiction writers, consists of a $30,000 cash award and appointment as writer in residence for one semester. Kleeman is receiving the prize for her debut novel You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine (Harper 2015). Called “brilliant and disturbing” by the New York Times, Kleeman’s darkly allegorical satire follows a woman known only as A, who lives in an unnamed American city with her roommate, B, and boyfriend, C, who wants her to join him on a reality dating show called That’s My Partner! A eats mostly popsicles and oranges and watches endless amounts of television, often just for the commercials. B is attempting to make herself a twin of A, who in turn hungers for something to give meaning to her life, something aside from C’s pornography addiction. Meanwhile, her neighbors across the street are a family who have begun “ghosting” themselves beneath white sheets, and whose garage door features a strange scrawl of graffiti: he who sits next to me, may we eat as one. Kleeman’s residency at Bard College is for the spring 2016 semester, during which time she will continue her writing, meet informally with students, and give a public reading. For more information, please call 845-758-7087.

The Bard Fiction Prize committee writes: “Alexandra Kleeman’s You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine wraps a nightmare inside absurdity. It is a novel of alienation, paranoia, anxiety, and dread that puts a smile on your face. We live in a reality so sick and absurd already that satire has a hard time one-upping it these days, but Kleeman has done so in a way that is at once moving, haunting, hilarious, and surpassingly strange. It’s a novel about starvation that one reads with voracious hunger. It makes you laugh and creeps you out, it disturbs and delights and keeps you rooted in your chair, flipping the pages, submerged, sunk, lost, enchanted. Alexandra Kleeman’s fiction is so dark and sad precisely because it is so uproariously funny. It’s the laughter of the doomed.”

Kleeman says, “I’m thrilled to be given this chance to participate in Bard’s thriving, innovative literary community—which I’ve admired from afar for so many years. The gift of time and support that the Bard Fiction Prize offers is a rare and precious thing, and I’m grateful to the prize committee for reading my work with such generosity and to Bard for offering this incredible opportunity. The spring semester is still months away, but I’m already looking forward to meeting students and faculty, and melding our minds!”

Alexandra Kleeman has written for publications including the Paris ReviewZoetropeHarper’sGuernicaTin HouseConjunctions, and n+1. She earned her MFA in fiction from Columbia University and has received grants and scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the Santa Fe Art Institute. She is currently completing a Ph.D. in rhetoric at UC Berkeley. She lives in New York City.

Photo by Graham Webster

About the Bard Fiction Prize

The creation of the Bard Fiction Prize, presented each October, continues Bard’s long-standing position as a center for creative, groundbreaking literary work by both faculty and students. From Saul Bellow, William Gaddis, Mary McCarthy, and Ralph Ellison to John Ashbery, Philip Roth, William Weaver, and Chinua Achebe, Bard’s literature faculty, past and present, represents some of the most important writers of our time. The prize is intended to encourage and support young writers of fiction to pursue their creative goals and provide an opportunity to work in a fertile and intellectual environment. Last year’s Bard Fiction Prize was awarded to Laura van den Berg for her book, The Isle of Youth (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013).

Bard Invites Submissions for Its Annual Fiction Prize for Young Writers

To apply, candidates should write a cover letter explaining the project they plan to work on while at Bard and submit a C.V., along with three copies of the published book they feel best represents their work. No manuscripts will be accepted. Applications for the 2017 prize must be received by June 15, 2016. For more information about the Bard Fiction Prize, call 845-758-7087 or send an e-mail to Applicants may also request information by writing to the Bard Fiction Prize, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY 12504-5000.

Bard Fiction Prize Winners

+ Laura van den Berg, 2015 Recipient

+ Bennett Sims, 2014 Recipient

+ Brian Conn, 2013 Recipient

+ Benjamin Hale, 2012 Recipient

+ Karen Russell, 2011 Recipient

+ Samantha Hunt, 2010 Recipient

+ Fiona Maazel, 2009 Recipient

+ Salvador Plascencia, 2008 Recipient

+ Peter Orner, 2007 Recipient

+ Edie Meidav, 2006 Recipient

+ Paul La Farge, 2005 Recipient

+ Monique Truong, 2004 Recipient

+ Emily Barton, 2003 Recipient

+ Nathan Englander, 2002 Recipient